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Bob Dole. John McCain. Mitt Romney. These three men have some­thing in common. Not only were all three failed Repub­lican pres­i­dential can­di­dates, but they also won their respective pri­maries on the back of an oft-repeated phrase: They were the only can­di­dates who were elec­table.

This phrase, touted by mod­erate and estab­lishment Repub­licans as a jus­ti­fi­cation for assorted con­ces­sions to big gov­ernment, has plagued the Repub­lican Party. After all, it was the only way to get in power. However, these “elec­table” can­di­dates failed mis­erably. Voters clearly didn’t want what the Repub­licans were selling: A wishy-washy, mod­erate stance that failed to emphasize the limited gov­ernment and liberty Repub­licans claimed to stand for.

Zoe Harness’ article (“GOP won’t win with Rand Paul,” March 19) is simply a reit­er­ation of these old argu­ments. Harness, to be precise, gives Rand Paul’s chances of victory at “zero.” She argues that some of his state­ments can be, and have been, mis­con­strued by the media to paint him out to be a bigot or a fool. Paul, then, is not fit to run for pres­ident, merely because the mass media have the capacity to mis­rep­resent his state­ments and posi­tions. Though this may be the case, the media can, and will, mis­con­strue state­ments from any politician for the sake of their own agenda.

In reality, Rand Paul’s posi­tions are merely outside of what the estab­lishment members of both parties per­ceive to be the accepted opinion. For example, she cites his oppo­sition to the Federal Reserve as “radical mon­etary policy.”

This itself is a radical take, as Paul’s recent bill (The Federal Reserve Trans­parency Act) cur­rently has 32 cosponsors in the Senate, and its sister bill in the House by Ken­tucky Repub­lican Rep. Thomas Massie has 148 cosponsors. Even if there were no broad popular appeal — which there is — his position in favor of greater trans­parency and account­ability in mon­etary policy is only radical insofar as it isn’t what the estab­lishment wants.

These and other allegedly radical posi­tions have wide­spread appeal, not just within the con­ser­v­ative wing of the Repub­lican Party, but across party lines. Paul is one of only a handful of Repub­licans attempting gen­uinely to expand the GOP without aban­doning his devotion to liberty and small gov­ernment in the process. His support for the removal of mandatory minimum sen­tencing laws, a restrained and sen­sible foreign policy, and privacy rights has wide cross-party appeal.

Paul is one of a very few Repub­licans making inroads with tra­di­tionally Demo­c­ratic groups, such as minorities and the youth. Paul has embarked on speaking tours of tra­di­tionally African-American col­leges, reaching out with such issues as sys­temic criminal justice reform. He is also using uncon­ven­tional tech­niques to reach younger voters, such as Snapchat. While some may claim his new approach to social media is no more than a gimmick, Paul is the only can­didate who dis­plays the capacity for flex­i­bility in getting his message across. This is a skillset essential for any pres­i­dential can­didate.

Rand Paul is dynamic, engaging, fresh, and appealing to a wide range of voters. His base of lib­er­tarian Repub­licans, Tea Party con­ser­v­a­tives who applaud his stance on budget issues, and mod­erates who appre­ciate his will­ingness to work across the aisle while still main­taining his prin­ciples all bode well for his primary chances.

An American elec­torate yearning for someone refreshing, genuine, and daring to chal­lenge the status quo could easily elect Rand Paul. Harness claims that the elec­torate does not want a dynamic, prin­cipled can­didate who reaches across the aisle and dares to speak his mind. Instead, they want “bread and cir­cuses,” mindless spec­tacle that appeals to their basest instinct. If this were the cri­teria, the best can­didate would be an old, trained circus ele­phant who draws a smaller and smaller crowd. If the Repub­lican nominee is as bland and “elec­table” as Jeb Bush, that’s exactly what we’ll get.